19 March – I spent another night at the DoubleTree. They are an amazing hotel and the service is impeccable! I love this hotel and the service they offer. I had to stay at the hotel for another night due to the misinformation of the program, and they were very accommodating and let me stay in the same room. I felt very lucky.
The program I am going to work with is a little bizarre, they said that the orientation started today – but it was an arrival day. I came in the night before so that I would be rested to start today – but instead had to stay another night at the hotel, because of the misinformation. The orientation starts tomorrow and I can check into the hotel today anytime from 10am to 10pm.
I decided to walk to the stadium – el Campin– in the Chapinero neighborhood. Before I left the hotel today, I asked for a late checkout and they gave me until 4pm! I am hoping to live in the Chapinero neighborhood when I find an apartment. Plus, my husband and I love soccer and I hope to go to some games with him when he is here. It was a super long walk to the stadium, so I went to the kiosk to get a bus card and tried to ride the bus part of the way. It was a bit confusing as they only have places every few blocks to buy the cards and top them up. One has to ask several people for directions as it is confusing. It is 3,000 for the card and 2000 for each ride – so…not that much, but a bit inconvenient. One has to find these kiosks to top up the card each time it runs down as these are the only places allowed to recharge the card.
I ended up walking more than I had planned as the bus numbers are so small that I could not see them until they were upon me and then the bus went speeding by! It was very frustrating. The lady who was also waiting had the same issue. I ended up taking a van to Chapinero as they had the neighborhood destination written in large letters in the front window. I had to pay them cash, 1,600 – which means I had spent all that time trying to find and purchase the travel card for naught. But… I was on my way!
I made it to the stadium and there were police officers everywhere – about 100+ of them in bright yellow jackets. They were very friendly as well – I asked them if there was a game tonight – there was, then where to get tickets – they found out for me that the game was sold out. It was between the Millionarios and Club Sante Fe – two local Bogota teams. As I was walking around the stadium, I saw that the entrance was open – I walked up and was going inside to look at it – when I was stopped. They said I could not go any farther or take a photo. It looked amazing inside. The stadium is next to the old stadium. It is very new and the national Colombia team plays there as well. I can’t wait to go see a game!
I was so tired and hungry after this time and walking around. I went looking for a restaurant or coffee shop, but could not seem to find any. I did walk around the entire stadium and I crossed the streets on each side in search of one. I remembered seeing an interesting, authentic looking restaurant on my way to the stadium. I decided to go check it out. It was called ‘La Bella Antioquia’. The building was very cute and cosy looking – the service was amazing with the staff were dressed up in native costumes. There was a trio of musicians going around singing for the various customers. I had an authentic meal of ground beef, arepas, beans, avocados and patacones. It was so much food that I could not eat it all. I really enjoyed it and will probably take my husband there when he comes.
I was too tired to try to find the bus stop, so I got an uber from the restaurant back to the hotel. Uber is apparently not really legal here – but it still works really well and is cheaper than taking the yellow cabs. The drivers usually have you sit in the front seat so that they do not appear to be ‘driving’ you around. They are very friendly and talk at length about the neighborhoods, politics and current events. I have thus far enjoyed every ride I have taken.
When I got back to the hotel, I brought my cases downstairs where they called a cab for me to take me to the new hotel where the orientation for the language program would be held.
The hotel was called Hotel Estelar La Fontana. It is a beautiful, large hotel, one of the oldest in the city. There was a gate that one had to go through to enter the premises. The hotel has a building with 2 bedroom apartments that is open for guests and long term renters. There is a center for seniors to be taken care of with both ambulatory and non-ambulatory seniors. There are two buildings with conference rooms and hotel rooms.
The check in process was very smooth and I was sent to the apartment I would be staying in with four other girls. There were two bedrooms, each with two twin beds, and one with a cot. There was a small sitting room and a kitchenette. One of the girls is from Venezuela, one from Russia and two + me from the US.
We all met each other and went downstairs for dinner. For the 10 days that we are staying in the hotel they are supplying food for us to eat in a conference room downstairs.